Dander & Williams to compete at IHSA National Championships this weekend

Dander & Williams to compete at IHSA National Championships this weekend

Fairfield, CT.- Sacred Heart University equestrian team members Melissa Dander and Abigail Williams have qualified for the 2017 the IHSA National Championship this weekend. The competition runs May 4-7 and is being held at Ky Horse Park (Kentucky).

Dander opens the Pioneers competition Thursday morning in Open Fences against 18 student-athletes from across country. She qualified in open fences by winning her qualifying class at Regional Championship and then Zone Championship. She qualified for Cacchione Cup at Nationals by qualifying as the top high point open rider in Zone 1 Region 5.

She will also compete on Friday and Saturday morning, in the Cacchione Cup. The open rider in each IHSA Region with the most points (combined flat and fences) earns an automatic trip to Nationals in the Cacchione Cup Competition. Named for Mario "Marty" Cacchione, father of IHSA Founder and Executive Director Bob Cacchione, the Cacchione Cup is awarded to the open rider who wins the competition.
The Cacchione Cup is one of the most prestigious titles a college equestrian can ever hope to win, as the trophy boasts the names of famed Olympians such as Beezie Madden and Peter Wylde. In 2016, more than 35 Open riders from colleges around the nation traveled the IHSA National Championships to stake their claim on the acclaimed Hunt Seat title. 
"In preparation, I've taken 3 hours practices for the past few weeks and ridden every horse we have to offer," Dander said. "I'm pumped for this week to see what happens."
Abigail Williams, will compete Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning against 24 other riders from schools nationwide in the AQHA High Point Rider class after qualifying by being the top western high point open rider in Zone 1.
"We've been putting in a lot of hours, it'll be a very exciting weekend," Williams said. "In practice the Coaching staff have been really big on, if you mess up a piece of your pattern to keep going because there is always an opportunity to gain your points back. I think that's a very good lesson for this weekend, no matter what happens to keep looking ahead."

You can follow the action from the IHSA National Championship via twitter by following @SHUET